Ajisai (Hydrangea): The Most Stunning Blooms of Summer

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  • Everyone knows the beauty of the spring sakura blossoms. Thousands flock to see the delicate petals before they fall from the trees in the unpredictable spring weather. Once the week or two has gone and the petals have all fallen it may seem that Japan has bloomed its last for the year.

    However, Japan is a thriving environment for many different flowering and non-flowering plants. From the plum blossoms in early spring to the lotus of the humid summer, there is one plant really captures the hearts and minds of Japan: Ajisai, the hydrangea.

    History in Japan

    In Japan the Ajisai hydrangea is considered as the flower of tsuyu, the rainy season. The rainy season usually lasts a month from mid-June to mid-July and, as its name suggests, brings a lot of rain! Historians argue over where the hydrangea began, whether in Japan or China. Originally it is thought that the hydrangea was blue, through breeding many varieties are now available. Hydrangeas now come in all shades of pinks, purples and blues, as well as white. This change in colour is due to the chemical ph level of the soil. This meant that hydrangea was shunned by the warrior class, who saw this phenomenon similar to changing loyalties. Hydrangeas have features in many Japanese works of art, where they look stunning depicted in the style of Japan.

    Where to find the ajisai?

    One of the great places to see hydrangea in bloom is in Kamakura. Pay a visit to Tokeiji Temple during June or early July to see the pathways lined with gorgeously bulging blooms in blues and pinks. Another great place to visit in Kamakura is Meigetsuin. Meigetsuin is also known as Hydrangea temple, so if you are looking to see them in bloom you won’t be disappointed.

    Tokyo also has a number of gardens you can visit to see the hydrangea in bloom. If you visit Hakusan Jinja during the 6th to the 14th of June you will be lucky to enjoy their Ajisai Matsuri. Here there are other 3000 hygrangea and a lot of food stalls and events. Ueno Park also has many hydrangea plants; you can get some great shots of the lake and the blooms. Across Japan you will find ajisai in bloom. Try the Kachi Kachi ropeway from Kawaguchiko. If you take the cable car up you can walk down the mountain through 10,000 hydrangea plants.

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